Category Archives: 1900s to 1920s

Ferris Corsets for Women and Girls, 1914, 1917 and 1910

Mother and daughter both wear Ferris Corsets in this ad from March, 1914. Delineator, page 65.

The Ferris Corset Waist was often stiffened by channels of cording, rather than exclusively by steel bones. In its day, it was a sort of “reform” or “good sense” garment, more flexible and less rigid than the usual boned corset. Nevertheless, it’s dismaying to read:

“Made in more than 100 styles to properly fit all ages, infants to adults.” Ad for the Ferris Waist; Delineator, March 1914.

The full ad for Ferris Waists, March 1914.

The girls at the bottom seem to be teens. The one at left appears to be leaning forward while using some kind of exercise equipment.

The tiny waist at left seems more 1910 than 1914. It may have been a “sport” corset.

The straps help to “teach” correct posture — and hold up your stockings. Even young girls needed something to hold their stockings up… especially when they were too young to have a waist and hips.

Text of Ferris ad, March 1914. “Ferris Waists take the place of corsets.”

Two girls wear Ferris waists in this ad from April 1917.

Ferris Good Sense Corset Waists were “lightly boned and  beautifully corded” to naturally develop the growing body into a more perfect figure in later years.” Ad from April 1917. Delineator.

Ad from May, 1914, featuring a maternity corset. Maternity corsets were sold by several companies, including Lane Bryant [click here to read more about Lane Bryant;]  Sears, Roebuck; and Berthe May.

Ferris Maternity Corset, May 1914. Delineator, page 73. [Why is she wearing her slip under her corset? Because the upper thigh was not usually shown in ads even in the 1950’s, which always led me to wonder how those stocking suspenders reached the stocking tops.]

A rival to the Ferris maternity corset was this more traditional boned corset from Berthe May. January 1914, Delineator. It “allows one to dress as usual and preserve a normal appearance.”

In this ad from 1910, Ferris assured buyers that their products were made “under the cleanest conditions.”

Ferris assured women that the Ferris Good Sense corset waist was not made by exploiting women workers in sweatshop conditions or by piecework in tenements. Ferris ad, 1910.

However, this Ferris maternity corset from 1910 does show fashionable constriction of the waist:

A Ferris Good Sense maternity corset/waist from 1910 clearly was intended to maintain the then-fashionable hourglass figure as long as possible.

Ad for Ferris Waists from Delineator, May, 1910.

Ferris ad, May 1910.

“Good sense” or not, corset-wearing started early:

Ferris Good Sense Corsets for girls, starting at age 6 months. If it buttoned up the back, a girl couldn’t get out of it without help.

Ferris Good Sense corsets for girls and teens, 7 to 15 years old. “[…Pleated] busts soft as silk. Specially adapted to growing girls 11 to 15 of slender form.”

Ferris waist for girls 12 to 17. May 1910 ad.

Those hose supporters (stocking suspenders) are really long!

An adult corset from 1910 sold by waist size: 19 to 30 inches. Ferris ad, Delineator, May 1910.

You can read more about the Ferris Brothers here.

 

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Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1910s and WW I era, Children's Vintage styles, Corsets, Corsets, Corsets & Corselettes, Foundation Garments, Hosiery, Hosiery, Maternity clothes, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings, Hosiery, Corsets, etc, World War I

Fancy Stockings, Twinkling Toes in 1914

Shoe buckles and fancy stockings featured in this Delineator article; April 1914, page 21.

By 1914, skirts might have very narrow hems of 44 or 45 inches — (Lay that out in a circle with a tape measure and imagine walking with that restriction on your ankles.) Some skirts had slits or a curved hem to permit a natural stride.

A peg-topped pannier skirt pattern from April 1914. Hems were narrow, and feet and stockings peeping out from them could be sexy. Butterick skirt pattern 6736.

Feet — and stockings — could be a focal point. It’s no surprise that stockings and shoes got more attention.

Parisian stockings, April 1914. All three have lace inserts. The lace on the right has a pattern of birds flying. Sold by La Maison Chatelet, Paris.

Swallows fly across the leg on the left. White silk stockings might have black lace inserts, like that on the right. A serpent snakes its way around the leg in the center. Hosiery from La Maison Gastineau, Paris.

Delineator magazine, which had offices in Paris and London as well as New York City, reported on couture designs  every month and aimed at an upper-middle-class reader. But it’s hard to imagine those snake stockings on the wife of a small-town American businessman or politician!

Slightly more conservative — but luxurious — stockings sold by La Maison Meier, Paris.

This was also an era of fabulous shoe buckles. (They clipped on to evening pumps and were purely decorative.) I inherited this pair of shoe clips from my aunt (and sold them!)

A pair of rhinestone or paste shoe buckles, probably World War I era or slightly later. Each was about two inches wide.

A lower-middle-class woman owned these beautiful shoe clips. Did she wear them often? Perhaps she wore them to formal events given by the Masons or the Eastern Star — she and her husband were members.

This photo of the backs shows the sliding fastener that clipped the buckle to the shoe.

A patented sliding device allowed you to use the clips on many different pairs of shoes.

As shown in these photos from Delineator, shoe clips could take many forms, even an owl, or a butterfly.

A shoe clip might be an abstract shape or a bow…

An owl’s face, and a different bow …. The clip at bottom right reminds us that a ribbon bow could match your shoes to your outfit.

These shoe clips show a traditional buckle shape, left, and a jeweled insect.

Evening shoes from Paris, April 1914. Delineator. Two of these shoes are shown with shoe clips. The one at top left is also trimmed with lace. The one at bottom left is “plain satin.”

[An embroidered shoe and an embroidered stocking: overkill?]

The embroidered shoe at the right, with straps that extend up the ankle, is a “cothurne” or “tango slipper.”  The straps keep it from flying off if you kick up your heels during the dance.

Another 1914 cothurne or tango slipper.

A lace-up shoe called the cothurnus was worn by the ancient Greeks and especially by actors performing while wearing masks. The built-up sole of the performers’ cothurni added to the stature of actors, making them appear larger than ordinary humans.

Shoes suitable for day or afternoon wear. April, 1914. (I think the stocking at left has a decorative “clock,” not a run.)

The dance called the tango was just becoming popular, along with the afternoon dance, called the “thé dansant” in French. (I just read an article about them in Delineator, May 1914 — written by Irene Castle.)

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Steps on the Way: 1914 to 1924

How did fashion get from here …

Fashion image from Delineator, March 1910.

… to here …

Fashion illustrations from Delineator, August 1920.

… in just ten years?

This is not a definitive answer — just a large collection of intriguing and sometimes contradictory tidbits I collected last month.

“Facts and Figures;” about the new corsets, from Delineator, April 1914. The author is Eleanor Chalmers. Page 38.

I was reading this article on corsets (1914) when I saw a sentence that leapt out:

That’s what it says: “Among smart women the size of the waistline has increased three inches in the past two or three years.”

I’ve been going through magazines from 1910, 1914, and 1920, and there is no doubt that a big change in the ideal figure happened between 1910 and 1914. This 1914 corset article will make more sense if we first look at some images from 1910.

Cover illustration, Delineator magazine, March 1910.

Full  breasts, narrow waist, wide hips: a classic hourglass figure. This is a voluptuous, grown woman in the prime of life.

Two curvaceous women wearing Butterick patterns from May 1910.

The 1910 beauty ideal is a mature woman, not a teen-aged girl. Of course, not all women looked this way without help.

Two 1910 corsets in a “Nuform”/ “Reduso” corset ad. Delineator, March 1910.

Even slender women were expected to be curvy:

The Sahlin Perfect Form and Corset Combined was lightly structured, but promised the small-waisted, big-busted look of 1910.

“For the Slender Woman… The only garment that, without padding or interlining, produces the stylish high bust, straight waist, and long hip…. Braces the shoulders, expands the chest naturally.”

If pulling your shoulders back didn’t do the trick, you could resort to a different sort of help:

Nature’s Rival promised a Perfect Bust: “the full rounded bust form of a finely built woman” — very large in relation to the tiny waist. Ad from Delineator, June 1910.

A slender but curvy woman (with an ideal figure for 1910) models a lingerie frock. Fashion illustration, Delineator, April 1910.

Shapely — but not necessarily girlish — women, March 1910; Delineator. Even the older woman has a tiny waist.

The woman at left is curvy; the woman in the suit at right has the hips of a corset ad.

Ad for American Lady corsets, April 1910.

The corset Chalmers recommended in 1914 created a very different shape: it doesn’t support the bust at all; it has — preferably — a stretchy rubberized waist, and its stated goal is to make the hips look narrower while making the waist look larger. (“Unless your waist is large, your hips will not be small….”)

Front and back views of a recommended corset, April 1914.

“The waistline no longer exists… You obviously can’t have the new straight lines with a curve at the waist and hips.” I was surprised to read this in an article from 1914. It seems to prefigure (no pun intended) the fashion ideal of the nineteen twenties.

“The silhouette that the corset makers and manufacturers are working on for 1914, and which is the basis for all the present styles, is the straight figure, with small hips, large waist, and no bust. ” [This is 1914, but it could be 1920-something!]

First paragraph of Eleanor Chalmer’s corset advice.”The face alone, no matter how pretty, counts for nothing unless the body is as straight and yielding as a very young girl.” Delineator, April 1914.

“If a woman clings affectionately to the high bust, the small drawn-in waist and the big hips of a few years ago, she is going to look not only old-fashioned, but old. The corset of former years gave a woman a mature, well-developed, matronly figure. The corset of to-day makes her look like a very young girl.”

American Lady Corset ad from April 1914. It seems to meet the large waist requirement, but young?

Compare two corsets from the same manufacturer, 1910 and 1914. Ads from Delineator.

“If necessary, you can wear a brassiere with it.”

Since the ideal was now a small, low bust, this brassiere for a full-breasted woman confined her breasts rather than supporting them.

Ad for a De Bevoise brassiere, June 1914.

Of course, what fashion writers tell readers they are looking at, and what we actually see, are not always the same thing.

Thomson’s corset ad, February 1914. Her hips are bizarrely long and thin.

Ms. Chalmers and the corset makers are selling the idea of a slender, girlish hip. But for other fashion writers in the same year, this was the headline :

“New Skirt Models That Widen the Figure at the Hip.” Delineator, March 1914.

These skirt patterns were shown in the same issue as the corset advice article which emphasized the importance of slender hips. Delineator, April 1914, p 26.

It hardly seems worth the trouble of wearing a corset under those skirts. “Saddlebag thighs?” Very chic!

However, the waist was definitely getting thicker — and higher. Hard to believe, but the following six outfits are all for girls 14 to 19 years old.

Patterns for teens 14 to 19. Delineator, April 1914, p. 37. [These skirts are wide at the hip and very narrow at the ankle.]

The 1914 ideal of a slender, girlish figure does not look as we might expect.

More patterns for teens 14 to 19 years old. April 1914. Tiny waists are out of style. Wide hips seem to be in… regardless of that corset article in the same magazine.

Even though I’ve written about the Tubular Twenties, I was looking for the arrival of the dropped waist; I missed the arrival of the thick waist. Maybe I should have been asking, “When did the waist disappear?” It looks like the answer is earlier than I realized. In 1914, the new style was usually high-waisted, but look at the girl at far left, above. Her waist is almost Twenties….

Skirts began to rise during World War I, but the wide hips and thick waists of the pre-war era continued into 1920:

Butterick fashions for May, 1920. Delineator, p. 151. The wide, loose sash actually adds bulk to the waist.

Maybe the thickening waist is how we got from this …

Butterick patterns 3828 and 3789, May 1910

… to this …

Butterick patterns for March 1914 show a thick-waisted, wide-hipped silhouette.

… to this:

Butterick patterns for January 1924. The line is long and narrow; there is no hint that women have waists.

In 1925, another Delineator writer suggested that women had let their figures go during these years of bulky fashions. “A Few Years Ago Women Took Off Corsets . . . and Let Their Figures Go.” — Evelyn Dodge, Delineator, July 1925.

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Conventions of Mourning, 1910

“The Conventions of Mourning,” an article by Eleanor Chalmers which appeared in Delineator magazine in March, 1910.

Costumers often need information about etiquette and social conventions for the era they are researching. I’m happy to have found this article from March, 1910. I’ve broken it up into segments for legibility. One of the interesting things it mentions is the difference between mourning customs in England and the United States. This magazine, Delineator, was published in both countries and aimed at a middle class or upper middle class reader in the United States, with regular reports on French couture.

The conventions of mourning are different depending on relationship to the deceased. Notice that these three women probably represent three generations; complete mourning dress for a younger girl was shown on the next page.

These women in mourning are different ages, with the early-middle-aged one at the left, the youngest in the center, and the eldest at right. Perhaps the one on the right is the mother, and the one in the middle is her grown daughter. Their clothes would be black, but have been illustrated in shades of gray so the details are more visible.

“The deepest mourning is that worn by a widow for her husband. A widow should wear deep mourning for a year or eighteen months….”

This woman appears to be wearing the widow’s “Marie Stuart bonnet of black crepe with a ruching of white crepe near the face.”

This appears to be the widow. Her veil is bordered in black and very long. Her hat has a touch of white.

Collars and cuffs for widows. 1910. White organdy was lined with stiff black buckram or crinoline.

[Presumably your ladies’ maid would be responsible for making new organdy collars and cuffs every day!]

“One can wear pearls and diamonds, … but no gold, silver, or colored jewels…. Black furs…. Sable has always been accepted as the equivalent of black.” [Well, that must have been a relief….]

In America, black “bands on the sleeves are only worn by servants or people too poor to afford proper mourning.”

I would not describe this hat as a toque. I defer to wiser writers…..

It’s sometimes not clear whether the word “for” refers to the deceased or to the wearer of mourning. “For a young child may mean “worn by a young child” but the context suggests that a mother is not expected to mourn as long for a young child as for a grown child. [My own great-grandmother had twelve children, but only three survived her.]

Young girls might wear all white mourning instead of all black.

All white, especially for [i.e., on] young girls, is considered full mourning…. A girl of 12 or 14 might wear black for a parent or sibling, but it wasn’t obligatory.

“Black and white mourning is only half mourning; in fact, it is worn so much nowadays by smartly gowned women that it hardly suggests mourning at all.”

“For a brother or sister full mourning is worn for a year…. If mourning is worn at all for a grandparent, it is worn for six months; for an aunt or uncle, three months [unless that relative was acting in loco parentis….]

“Mourning means a withdrawal from society, and no formal entertaining or visiting is done throughout its duration.”

“I have said nothing about mourning [to be worn by] children, as there is a very strong feeling against it in this country…. With men, too, mourning is never emphasized as it is for women.”

So, when the husband dies, the wife mourns for 18 months. When the wife dies, the husband wears black for a year, and a black hatband. “Many American men do not wear mourning at all….” [Of course, the widower is expected to “go into society” looking for a replacement after six months or so….]

Mourning hats and veils, 1910. Delineator, March 1910; pp. 243 & 244. Black fur and diamonds were acceptable, but gold or silver jewelry was not.

 

 

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What’s Going on Here? Tops and Skirts from 1914

Almost the full page image of four outfits from Delineator, April 1914. Four outfits: eight patterns.

This is a follow-up to a post that showed this image without any explanation. In 1914, Delineator was a large format magazine, much bigger than the average computer screen (or modern magazine) so I will have to chop up that image to show details of these outfits. The opposite page gave more information about each one, so I also have line drawings and alternate views to share.

Important fact: Not one of these outfits is a dress. They are all separate tops and skirts.

Butterick pattern numbers for the brown and blue-gray outfits at the top right of the page.

It’s not always easy to figure out whether you’re looking at a dress, a skirt and “waist” [i.e., blouse,] or a “coat” and skirt in these fashions from 1914. Luckily, the old Delineator supplied plenty of alternate views.

Sometimes an alternate view  looks so different from the major illustration that only the pattern number shows that they are variations of the same garment. I’ll start by dissecting the gold-colored suit at top left.

Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Coat 6790 and skirt 6806 look like a suit with a long jacket — that’s an illusion.

First surprise: the jacket only reaches the waist.

Coat 6790 with an alternate view, the lapel buttoned.

Front and back views of coat/jacket 6790.

The skirt includes a long tunic top.

Skirt 6808 with two alternate views.  The skirt, drawn in plaid with a bias cut top and two rows of buttons, looks very different.

Butterick waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

The height of these hats makes it hard to do justice to the entire outfit at once.

Back and front views of waist 6791. In the color version, the waist is two-toned and has a blue and white collar and “vest.”

Alternate views of waist 6791. This view, made in sheer or print fabric, has a high neckline instead of the V-neck shown in the color illustration.

Skirt 6792 has two tiers over the skirt itself.

Skirt 6792 could also be made in a sporty plaid, with more buttons, too. I wonder: were the tunics always cut on the bias, being based on a circle segment? Was the back always placed on the straight grain?

These skirts must have been very warm, if every layer was lined. The drawing of the waistline on all these skirts shows how the corset of 1914 distorted a woman’s body; the boned front of the corset forced her abdominal area into a straight line, pushing the hips and pelvis back — which caused a sway-backed effect. The waistline of the skirt is therefore higher in the back than in the front — one reason why vintage blouses from the WW I era don’t stay tucked into your skirt in back if you aren’t wearing a 1914 corset!

Ad for the Nu-Bone corset, Delineator, March 1914. You can see how the straight-front corset forces the hips and pelvis back.

This Nu-Life corset is higher in back than in front — just like the skirts’ waistbands.

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800.

Incidentally, George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion — which is the basis for My Fair Lady — opened in London in  1914. For the benefit of costumers, I’m sharing a lot of construction information.

A closer view of waist 6799. It looks very short-waisted.

Like the skirts, the waistline of the “waist” is higher in back than in front.

This skirt is elaborately draped.

Front and back views of skirt 6800.

Skirt 6800 later appeared in a feature about bridal costumes. It is very formal.  [Here, it looks like a cape, but it is a skirt.] The view on the left is the back view; on the right is the front view.

Waist 6823 with skirt 6824. Wide hips were obviously very much in style in 1914 — in spite of those corsets.

Three views of waist 6823. Again, the plaid version looks much less formal. It could be worn with a plain skirt.

Skirt 6824 is elaborately draped in a “pannier effect.” The color image gives the back view.

A skirt like this required a shorter interior lining made of sturdy fabric, which supported the weight of the “bustle.”

Description of the blue-gray waist 6823 and skirt 6824. Delineator, April 1914. A “short four-piece foundation skirt” eliminated the need for a waistband.

The surplice-style waist/blouse was also made with a “French lining” to support and control the fullness. I’ll write about French linings some other day.

Here are written descriptions of the other three outfits (I’ll refer to them by color.)

Gold-colored Butterick coat 6790 with skirt 6806. Delineator, April 1914.

Description for the gold-colored “suit” made by combining coat 6790 with skirt 6806.

This skirt also had a “short four piece foundation skirt.”

In addition to the color illustration, skirt 6806 was shown in a plaid version with a different coat on page 24.

Butterick wine-colored waist 6791 with skirt 6792. April 1914, Delineator.

Description of the wine-colored outfit made from waist 6791 and skirt 6792. “The double tunic and one-piece lower part area attached to a short three-piece foundation skirt in regulation waistline.” [As you can see, these skirts have no obvious waistband.]

Waist 6799 with skirt 6800 apparently in brown silk or taffeta.

Description of brown waist 6799 with skirt 6800. Delineator, April 1914. “A short three-piece foundation skirt is given in regulation waistline.”

I don’t think “regulation” had any legal status — it was just the usual no-visible-waistband technique for making skirts.

I can’t resist ending with closer views of the hats:

She’s wearing a wristwatch.

Whew! long post….

 

 

 

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Snapshots from a Time Traveler

Ta-dah! The big reveal from February 1920. Delineator.

I’m still having fun in the library. This week I traveled to 1914 and 1920, and I couldn’t wait to share a few snapshots.

High life: wearing Butterick patterns in February 1914. Delineator.

“Does this dress make my hips look big enough?” Delineator, June 1920.

Of course, I’m still labeling photos from 1910, too.

A Big Hat from January, 1910. Delineator.

Another Big Hat:

“No, I’m not a fortune teller: why do you ask?” From Delineator, February 1910.

However, I predict your bust will be improved….

Nature’s Rival: You can have a Perfect Bust thanks to the Air-Form Corset Waist. Ad from Delineator, February 1910. [Inflated with what?]

From Big Hats to High Hats:

It can’t have been easy getting out of a cab in one of these — in the hat or the skirt. Delineator, April 1914.

A High Hat from May 1914. Delineator.

“See you real soon….” With lots more images from the colorful past.

Seriously, I’m trying to prioritize color images, because there is simply not enough time to photograph everything that interests me in these old magazines. But it’s not easy!

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Postcard #3: Bette Davis Eyes, 1910; Migratory Bird Act Threatened, 2018

Models wearing enormous hats; Delineator, June 1910. Note the feathers — probably not from endangered species — on the left.

The model on the right appears in the 1910 Delineator magazines several times; I couldn’t help noticing her resemblance to Bette Davis, who was only two years old in 1910.

A Bette Davis look-alike models a blouse with square neckline and bare throat (Butterick 3872;) Delineator, June 1910.

The bare throat on this model was not unique in the 1910 magazines I’ve been reading.

The other thing on my mind today is the Migratory Bird Act.

Hat decorated with entire bird wings, Delineator, February 1910.

I’ve just finished reading Tessa Boase’s fascinating book, Mrs. Pankhurst’s Purple Feather, which draws comparisons between the British women who led the fight for woman’s suffrage and the equally successful British women who fought for the protection of birds, and eventually achieved widespread environmental protections.

Boase reminds us that, in the United States, plumage from endangered species was outlawed a decade earlier than in Britain.

I just learned that “the Audubon Society and other organizations named 2018 the year of the bird.” Sadly, the article in The Washington Post which I just quoted describes an attack by the Trump Administration on the Migatory Bird Act of 1918.

A huge hat trimmed with feathers — and possibly entire taxidermied bird wings. Delineator, February 1910. In the U.S., such wings could not come from endangered species.

In 1910, British women praised the United States’ leadership in conservation of species and preservation of the natural world. In the U.S., the Lacey Act of 1900 made it a crime to sell protected species, and the Plumage Act of 1912 also forbade the importation of skins and feathers from endangered birds. In the U.S., women wearing Paris hats trimmed with prohibited feathers — like those from the snowy egret — could have them confiscated.

In April 2018, however, according to Washington Post reporters Darryl Fears and Dino Grandoni,

“In an opinion issued Wednesday to federal wildlife police who enforce the rule, the Interior Department said “the take [killing] of birds resulting from an activity is not prohibited by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act when the underlying purpose of that activity is not to take birds.”

The implication is that deforestation, oil spills, and careless disposal of hazardous waste — actions which can kill wildlife but are not specifically intended to kill wildlife — will no longer be prohibited.

In 2016, thousands of migrating snow geese died when they landed on a pond filled with toxic mine waste. (This is another report from The Washington Post, but verified by other sources.) The Fish and Wildlife Service has information on why and how to prevent oil fields from becoming deathtraps for birds and other species.

One lesson from Tessa Boase’s book — which I will be reviewing soon — was how much can be accomplished by determined women writing letters to newspapers, elected representatives, even parish newsletters.

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